Stainless steel appliances look fabulous when they’re clean, but it can be a challenge to keep them looking their best. Smudges, streaks, and fingerprints often stand out and can leave the finish looking not-so-stainless.
Cleaning stainless steel appliances can be a bit tricky, so we’ve got tips to make the job easier and keep your appliances clean and polished. While cleaners designed just for stainless steel appliances work well, you can also use products you may already have on hand.
Before you begin cleaning your stainless steel appliances – especially if you have recently purchased new appliances, or they are still under warranty – check the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations. Different manufacturers use different finishes, so see what they recommend, as well as what they say to avoid.
The Best Way to Clean Stainless Steel?
All stainless steel is not the same, so there isn’t one best way to clean it. There are actually many different types of this metal alloy, each with unique properties, as well as benefits and drawbacks. Your kitchen sink and pots and pans might be stainless steel, but they are generally a bit tougher and can handle more scrubbing than your stainless steel appliances. Many manufacturers also add special coatings or finishes to their stainless steel appliances. This means you should pay special attention to the manufacturers’ care instructions.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances
Not only do you want clean appliances, you also want to avoid damaging the stainless steel finish in the process. Avoid cleansers such as bleach and ammonia, as well as harsh abrasives like steel wool, scrubbing pads, and scouring powders.
Almost all appliance manufacturers recommend beginning cleaning with warm water mixed with liquid dish soap or other mild soap. They also recommend different brands – often their own – of stainless steel appliance cleaners. Some also suggest DIY cleaners such as baking soda and water, vinegar, or mineral oil. Before you try DIY cleaners, first try small a test spot in an inconspicuous area.
Here are the products many manufacturers suggest:
- Warm soapy water
- Stainless steel cleaner
- Baking soda (for tough stains)
- Vinegar and water, or vinegar and mineral oil
Use Microfiber Cloths
Microfiber cloths are far more effective for cleaning than traditional cotton cleaning materials or paper towels. The cloth's fine, tiny fibers collect dirt better and won’t leave behind lint or streaks, nor will they scratch stainless steel appliances. They are also far more absorbent and dry more quickly than other materials. You’ll find you need much less cleaning product to achieve similar – or better – results.
Try a Stainless Steel Cleaner
There are a number of commercial stainless steel cleaners available to clean and polish your appliances. They typically use mineral oil or natural oils to help create a high shine with a fingerprint-resistant finish. Many manufacturers also recommend specific products, so check their website. Look for a product that cleans and polishes at the same time, so you’re not stuck with a two-step process.
Go with the Grain
Similar to wood and some fabrics, stainless steel has a grain. If you look closely, you can see faint lines running either horizontally or vertically through your stainless steel appliances and sink. Clean in the direction of the metal’s grain and not in a circular motion. This will help eliminate streaks.
Stubborn Stains or Discolorations?
Got stubborn streaks, stains, or spots? Try a little baking soda and water mixed together and rub gently in the direction of the grain. If that doesn’t work, many appliance manufacturers suggest trying a cleaning product with oxalic acid like Bar Keepers Friend.
Stainless Steel Appliance Cleaning Tips
Even if you’re used to cleaning other types of stainless steel, appliances are a bit trickier to clean. For starters, the finish is more delicate. Here are a few tips for the best way to clean stainless steel appliances:
- Stay away from harsh cleaners: Bleach and oven cleaners can discolor stainless steel. Avoid products with ammonia as well.
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners: This includes scouring pads and steel wool as well as abrasive cleaning products.
- Avoid hard water: If you have hard tap water, consider using filtered or distilled water instead. The minerals in hard water can leave behind spots and streaks (similar to the spots you see on glassware and shower doors) instead of a shiny surface.
- Dry thoroughly: Use a microfiber cloth to dry appliances after cleaning. Letting stainless steel appliances air dry can leave streaks.
Protect Your Appliances with a Home Warranty
No matter what type of finish you have on your kitchen and laundry appliances, a home warranty from First American can help protect your budget and provide a simple solution when your appliances break.